Wisconsin wildlife officials will again be gathering samples from hunter-harvested deer to test for chronic wasting disease in southern and central Wisconsin and in areas around where a deer tested positive for the disease last year in Washburn County in northwestern Wisconsin.

“Our overall goal is to detect trends in prevalence and distribution of the disease.” said Brian Glenzinski, a wildlife health specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Glenzinski said the sampling and testing of deer for disease is one of the key components of DNR’s disease management strategy. Assessing the extent and distribution is a critical first step in dealing with the disease. DNR’s disease surveillance plan focusses on implementing recommendations of the Deer Trustee Report while maintaining a strong scientific approach to monitoring CWD, he said.

“It is crucial we know where the disease is and what it is doing for containment efforts to be effective,” he said.

As well an important disease monitoring tool, the sampling is also a service to hunters.

Active surveillance within the CWD – Management Zone relies on hunters voluntarily submitting samples and will be conducted in western Racine and Kenosha, eastern Walworth, western Sauk counties, and all of Richland County. Hunters should check dnr.wi.gov, key word “CWD” for sampling locations. As in years past, veterinary clinics are offering CWD testing services for a fee.

Sampling of adult deer will also take place in parts of Dane and Iowa counties and parts of Rock and Walworth counties, and around Washburn County northwestern Wisconsin where a wild adult doe found on private property just west of Shell Lake in Washburn County tested positive for the disease. The location of this deer was more than 100 miles from the nearest known cases of the disease in either wild or captive deer.

Testing will also continue within an 84 square-mile area that encompasses Devil’s Lake State Park “where long-term monitoring of disease patterns is important to understanding the dynamics of this disease,” Glenzinski said.

In addition, testing in the area that is being discussed for potential elk range expansion will begin this year, to determine whether or not the disease is present at reasonable confidence levels. This is the first of two years of sampling needed to accomplish those confidence levels.

This year DNR will continue to implement new strategies aimed at detecting changes in the location and trends in prevalence of the disease, Glenzinski said. Additionally, DNR will continue a pilot program that began last year to focus surveillance on adult deer along the outer fringe of the CWD-MZ. If CWD is in an area, adult deer are the ones most likely to have it. Taxidermists will be used to provide testing in three areas: Grant, Juneau/Adams, and Dodge counties.

More information and a link to a map of the 2012 sampling area is available by searching the DNR website for “CWD prevalence.”

Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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